Real World 2


Fact Sheet

Authors Alexis Neuhaus
IWAD Doom 2
Engine standard Doom engine
Date 2004/04/05
Levels 10
Other New music, status bar & misc menu elements

Review by Colin Phipps

Real World 2 is an unusual choice of name for what is essentially a WAD paying homage to the original Doom levels. The first five levels are in the Knee Deep in the Dead style, with lots of references to areas in the original levels. The later levels draw from the other original Doom episodes.

There are replacement gaphics for the in-game strings and some of the menu elements, and the status bar. The music is also replaced: some of the pieces I recognise from Duke3D, others I don't know.

Alexis has clearly mastered the Knee Deep style, and the early levels are the best in this style that I have seen for a while. On the downside, there is a real shortage of new material: some of the levels you can feel yourself going from one room to the next thinking "hmm, that's E1M3 the start room, and this is E1M2 the computer maze" — don't look here for anything that new or exciting.

The interesting architecture should make these interesting to play, but sadly the levels are short on decent monster placement. But I'll explain that after considering the individual levels:

  1. HangarMAP01 screenshot Nice little start level. The style is very Knee-Deep, with lots of STARTAN, STARGR, and a little computer maze. The layout is good, and there are good architectural features like windows between rooms and a small nukage lake, although some of the side rooms lack detail. It's an easy start level, with just weak enemies, but you are made to fight for the shotgun, and the interesting layouts give one or two good fights — although the only trap does show on the map.
  2. Nuclear Plant — Despite the name, this one reminded me more of Toxin Refinery (Doom E1M3), with the small start room opening onto a nukage lake with a bridge to the exit; there there is a lift-up-to-a-computer-and-TEKWALL-red-keycard just like Computer Station (Doom E1M7). The flickering lights computer maze, and some of the secrets, are more like its namesake. There are some good secrets, but with no traps and less interconnections it's possibly easier than the first level.
  3. Toxin RefineryMAP03 screenshot This level feels more original, with some good areas, and good use of nukage and overlooking ledges to make things more interesting, even if not that detailed. The level uses a few cacodemons, but it is still mostly crowds of weaker enemies — the numbers keep the player on their toes, but monster placement is predictable and the traps remain simple.
  4. Command Center — More Knee-Deep nostalgia, with lots of Nuclear Plant and Central Processing (Doom E1M2 and E1M5) references. Once again there are a lot of lined up sergeants and troopers, which isn't very challenging; but there are some better fights, with one or two nice traps, and some places where they can get behind you.
  5. Phobos Lab — This level boasts a good opening fight, with lots of sergeants, troopers, imps and a baron prowling around the opening rooms, with the player forced to work for a safe space. There's not a lot else to it, though, and it's short of new ideas.
  6. Nukage ProcessingMAP06 screenshot Suddenly, the episode takes a turn, and moves into the Shores of Hell style. Actually, it's a cross between fragments of Containment Area (Doom E2M2) — with the cement walls and corridor of crushers — and And Hell Followed (Ultimate Doom E4M7) — with its large final yard and bridges to be raised over the nukage channels. There are some Doom 2 monsters used too, but the monster placement continues to be based on quantity rather than quality — there are a few traps, but mostly weak ones, and the automap is also available. There are some good secrets here though.
  7. Power Control — This is a small industrial level, a cross between Knee-Deep and Shores of Hell in style. There are some nice areas, but also some plain ones. The gameplay is very basic: the few threatening fights were neutralised by monster-no-cross lines, which prevented the player being put under any pressure. There is also a strange room with 4 teleports, where most lead back to earlier areas in an already small level.
  8. Containment Area — This level is like a smaller, faster version of its namesake, just a bit of run running around clearing the imps out from this crate maze. The crates are well done, and there is a nice secret, but it's trivial stuff.
  9. Refinery — This starts out somewhat like Military Base (Doom E1M9), and the bulk of the level is a rehash of ideas from various Shores of Hell levels. There are some good traps, although careless design allows the only hard trap to be bypassed — basically the lack of monster placement makes it a walkthrough with the ammo and weapons available.
  10. Circle of Death — This is a base set around a rocky canyon. The design is more original, but nothing special. The gameplay is more challenging, as there is limited ammo and a greater number of the more powerful enemies; still little in the way of traps, and monster placement is still underwhemling. There is an ignorable cyberdemon, and then you reach the exit.

It is always a bit tricky to rate the gameplay of an episode that is easy; I try not to mark down for levels that are on the easy side. But if they are easy for a good reason, I mark down. Real World 2 is easy for three bad reasons: firstly, the monster-no-cross lines restrict the monsters too much, giving the player too large a comfort zone; secondly, the tougher monsters are always in front of the player, while the traps are generally weak; thirdly, the fairly easy secrets, automaps and traps shown on the map take away most of the sting that the levels do have. To put it in two words: monster placement: this WAD doesn't have it. The difficulty also does not progress enough as the episode goes on, so loaded with weapons and armour the later levels seem easier.

While some of the levels look really good, I can't give a good score to something where the best bits are a rehash of ideas from the original game. Yes they are done well, and yes there are significant variations on the originals, but still several of the better levels come across as tributes to the originals rather than anything new.

Overall then, this is good for a couple of hours fun in some new levels paying homage to the original Doom. Certainly this is much better than most E1 tribute WADs that I have played. The best here is probably MAP03 for architecture, and MAP05 for gameplay. But nothing to surprise or challenge the player.

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